Hello! I have another exciting giveaway for you (in addition to a recipe for a delicious crème fraîche cheesecake). Three more pieces of kitchen equipment that I absolutely love: Emile Henry mixing bowls, Mauviel Copper Sugar Saucepan, and a Lékué springform mold. The mixing bowls are pretty much a necessity in any kitchen, and this set is lovely, with three different sized nesting bowls. I use them all the time – for mixing, of course, but also for holding fruit and filling with chips at parties, among other things. The sugar saucepan is beautiful (I included it on my gift guide as well), and I find it to be a fantastic tool for making Italian buttercream. And the springform mold has been a game changer for me. I will admit I was skeptical about silicone molds when I was first introduced to them, but I have fallen in love with them after never having to worry about messy cheesecake sides. The mold peels away from the cheesecake every time, leaving perfect sides. Extra bonus: the cheesecake bakes on a white ceramic plate that is perfect for serving on as well, and I never have to have the stress of sliding a cheesecake on to a serving plate ever again.
TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY
1 winner will receive 1 Emile Henry Mixing Bowl Set + 1 Mauviel Copper Sugar Saucepan + 1 Lékué Springform Mold + a copy of The Vanilla Bean Baking Book by Sarah Kieffer. Participants who complete*** this form*** will be entered for a chance to win. Contest is open through 12/13 to residents of the U.S. and Canada only. The winner will be randomly selected through random.org and notified via e-mail no later than 12/16. The winner’s name and address will be shared with Emile Henry, Mauviel, and Lékué for the sole purpose of mailing out the prize. Thank you! (Also: don’t forget to enter my Minted giveaway as well!)
(The Canadian cover is different than the US, so if you live in Canada and win, this is what your prize package will look like.)
Crème Fraîche Cheesecake with Chocolate Ganache and Mint Meringue
The key to a perfect cheesecake? For me, it was a few little tricks. The cheesecake batter needs to be perfectly and completely smooth, with no lumps or bumps. This means scraping down the bowl often and beating the batter for quite a long time. After the batter is poured into the cake pan, I found banging the pan against the counter 10-12 times helped bring any air bubbles to the surface, and resulted in a cheesecake that rose perfectly flat and did not crack. Double wrapping the cheesecake pan with foil insured white sides that didn’t over bake.
A few notes: The layer of chocolate is thin; just a taste. You can double the ganache if you want more. Just make sure to let it set before topping with the meringue. Also, the meringue does have liqueur in it, which could flame when toasted. This didn’t happen to me, but, just be warned. You can use only mint extract if you don’t have crème de menthe. I didn’t go crazy with the meringue – just smooth and lightly toasted, but you could pull a Zoe and make it very fancy. Chocolate or vanilla wafer crackers would also make a great crust, if you aren’t fond of a graham cracker crust.
2 cups (200g) graham cracker crumbs
¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar
5 tablespoons (72g) unsalted butter, melted
Crème Fraîche Cheesecake
2 pounds (904g) cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup (198g) granulated sugar
8 ounces (226g) crème fraîche
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon salt
3 eggs + 1 yolk, room temperature
2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
1/4 cup heavy cream
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 large egg whites
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon crème de menthe
1/2 teaspoon mint extract (more if desired)
For the crust
Adjust an oven rack to the middle position, and preheat the oven to 325F.
Whisk the graham cracker crumbs and sugar together in a medium bowl. Pour the melted butter over the graham crackers and mix with a spatula until it is evenly incorporated. Press the mixture onto the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. After the pan has cooled, wrap it in two layers of aluminum foil, with the shiny side facing out.
For the crème fraîche cheesecake
In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until light, fluffy, and completely smooth, 4-5 minutes. Scrap down the bowl repeatedly, making sure that by the end every tiny speck of cream cheese is silky smooth. Add the sugar and beat for another 2-3 minutes, scraping down sides and making sure the sugar is completely incorporated. Add the crème fraîche, vanilla, and salt, and beat again for 2-3 minutes. Add the melted butter and mix until combined. Add the eggs and the yolk one at a time, and beat on medium after each addition, scraping down the bowl as needed, and mixing until just combined. Add the heavy cream and mix until combined, about 1 minute. Use a spatula to finish mixing.
Pour the filling over the cooled crust, and use an offset spatula to smooth the top. Bang the bottom of the springform pan on your kitchen counter to help get rid of any air bubbles (I do this quite a few times, until most the air bubbles that appear on the surface pop).
Set a roasting pan on the floor of the oven and fill it with 16 cups of warm water. Set the cheesecake on the middle oven rack and bake for 1 hour without opening the door. Check the cheesecake after an hour. The outer ring (about 2-3 inches) of the cake should be slightly puffed and fairly firm, but the center should be jiggly when wiggled gently. If the outer ring is not firm, let the cheesecake cook another 10-15 minutes. If it is done, turn the oven off and open the oven door just a crack, letting the cheesecake rest and cool in the oven for one hour. Remove the cheesecake from the oven and continue cooling it on a wire rack.
Move the crème fraîche cheesecake to the refrigerator. Place a piece of parchment paper over the top of the pan, and let chill at least four hours or overnight.
For the ganache
Place the chopped bittersweet chocolate in a small bowl. Heat the heavy cream in a small saucepan, until it is simmering and just about to boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate, then cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit for 5 minutes. Remove the wrap and whisk the cream and chocolate together, until it is completely smooth. Add the vanilla and whisk again to combine. Let the mixture cool down to room temperature, and then pour over top of the chilled cheesecake, using an offset spatula to distribute it evenly and smooth the top. Let the glaze set before topping with meringue (I let it chill in the refrigerator while I am making the meringue).
For the meringue
Put about an inch of water in a medium saucepan and bring it to a gentle boil.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, stir the egg whites, sugar, and salt to combine. Place the bowl over the saucepan, being careful not to let the water touch the bottom of the bowl. Stir with a rubber spatula until the sugar is completely melted and reaches a temperature of 160°F, 4 to 5 minutes. While you are stirring, be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl with the spatula—this will ensure no sugar grains are lurking on the sides and also help prevent the egg whites from cooking.
Remove the bowl from the heat and place it in the stand mixer fitted with a whisk. Whisk on medium-high until stiff, glossy peaks form, 8 to 10 minutes. The bowl should have cooled down to room temperature at this point. Add the vanilla, crème de menthe, and mint extract, and beat until combined. Scoop the meringue onto the crème fraîche cheesecake and arrange as desired (I went smooth here, but you could make curls or spikes as well). Use a kitchen torch to gently toast the meringue, if desired.